Eustace & Lagana Introduce "Amber Light" Bill to Establish Minimum Duration for Yellow Light Signals

(TRENTON) – Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace and Joseph Lagana (Both D-Bergen, Passaic) recently introduced legislation to establish a statutory standard duration of the amber/yellow light signal at intersections with a traffic control signal.

Municipalities are currently not allowed to alter the length of the yellow light. The sponsors’ intent is to establish standard yellow light duration times and ensure that the speed of the roadway is also taken into consideration.

“We want to prevent more accidents at intersections and ensure that drivers have ample enough time to stop for a red light,” said Eustace. “Traffic safety should not only be about catching drivers who run red lights. It must also include making necessary changes to ensure drivers are given the appropriate amount of time to adjust their speed.”

“A car driving on a 45 mph road will need a few more seconds to come to a stop than a car traveling on a road with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less,” said Lagana. “It’s very simple. With this legislation, we can ensure there is a minimum standard set for yellow lights at every New Jersey intersection.”

The sponsors’ note that a couple seconds may not seem like a lot but it can make a big difference in safety at traffic intersections as other states have proven. States, including Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia and California, have found that a modest increase to the yellow light signal duration can help reduce red light-running and traffic accidents.

Under the bill’s (A-4059) provisions, amber light is required to have a minimum duration of:
(a) four seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of 30 miles per hour or less;
(b) four and one half seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of more than 30 miles per hour but less than or equal to 35 miles per hour;
(c) five seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of more than 35 miles per hour but less or equal to 40 miles per hour;
(d) five an done half seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of more that 40 miles per hour but less than or equal to 45 miles per hour;
(e) six seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of more than 45 miles per hour but less than or equal to 50 miles per hour;
(f) six an done half seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of more than 50 miles per hour but less than or equal to 55 miles per hour; and;
(g) seven seconds if at least 85 percent of the vehicular traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed of more than 55 miles per hour.

“The road speed must be appropriately considered when factoring traffic light timing,” continued Eustace. “This is about driver safety and giving drivers enough time to stop for the light.”

“Setting a specific duration for amber lights based on speed of road is a part of efficient regulation of traffic intersections,” added Lagana. “The length of amber traffic lights should provide ample time for a driver to react responsibly and appropriately.”